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Is Additional Help Available?

If you need to make changes to your family's eating and exercise habits, but are finding it difficult, a registered dietitian (RD) may be able to help. Your physician may be able to refer you to an RD, or you can call the National Center for Nutrition and Dietetics of The American Dietetic Association at 800-366-1655 and ask for the name of an RD in your area.

� If your efforts at home are unsuccessful in helping your child reach a healthy weight and your physician determines that your child's health is at risk unless he or she loses weight steadily, you may want to consider a formal treatment program. To locate a weight-control program for your child, you may want to contact a local university-based medical center.�The Weight-control Information Network (WIN), described at the end of this booklet, maintains a list of nationwide university-based medical centers.�

Look for the following characteristics when choosing a weight-control program for your child. The program should:

  • Be staffed with a variety of health professionals. The best programs may include RDs, exercise physiologists, pediatricians or family physicians, and psychiatrists or psychologists.

  • Perform a medical evaluation of the child. Before being enrolled in a program, your child's weight, growth, and health should be reviewed by a physician. During enrollment, your child's weight, growth, and health should be monitored by a health professional at regular intervals.

  • Focus on the whole family, not just the overweight child.

  • Be adapted to the specific age and capabilities of the child. Programs for 4-year-olds are different from those developed for children 8 or 12 years of age in terms of degree of responsibility of the child and parents.

  • Focus on behavioral changes.

  • Teach the child how to select a variety of foods in appropriate portions.

  • Encourage daily activity and limit sedentary activity, such as watching TV.

  • Include a maintenance program and other support and referral resources to reinforce the new behaviors and to deal with underlying issues that contributed to overweight.

The overall goal of a successful treatment program should be to help the whole family focus on making healthy changes to their eating and activity habits that they will be able to maintain throughout life.

The Weight-control Information Network (WIN) is a service of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), part of the National Institutes of Health. WIN provides information on weight control, obesity, and nutritional disorders. WIN responds to requests for information; develops, reviews, and distributes publications; and develops communications strategies to encourage individuals to achieve and maintain a healthy weight.
last updated: 10 February 1998

last update: February 2009

This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. You should not use this material to diagnose or treat a health condition or disease without consulting with your healthcare provider.
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